PAUL Nicholls’ enjoyed double success at Kempton last Saturday as stable jockey Harry Cobden was seen to maximum effect from the front on Solo (120+) and Rubaud (143+), with the last named the most impressive winner of the day over hurdles on the clock.

Having raced too freely in the Betfair Hurdle, Rubaud settled perfectly for Cobden on this occasion, which enabled the five-year-old to repel the late challenge of Mullenbeg (141) on his way to recording a closing sectional of 75.0secs from the third last hurdle.

Paul Nicholls nominated Aintree as a next target, expressing the view a flat track is a prerequisite for the son of Air Chief Marshal to be seen at his best.

Irish form

Nusret (139+) laid down a marker for the Irish juvenile hurdle form with victory in the Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle, posting a time figure which entitles connections to be plotting a course towards the Grade 1 hurdle at Punchestown. The overall time difference of 0.8secs with Rubaud was reversed over the final circuit as the Munir & Souede-owned four-year-old stopped the clock for his closing sectional at 76.7secs.

There was also merit to the finishing effort of Mark Of Gold (122+) as he finished off quicker than the Juvenile Grade 2 winner in covering the ground from the third last in 76.5secs.

However, Gary Moore’s handicap winner was afforded a slower early pace from which to launch his winning challenge.

Cobden instigated the Nicholls brace in the Pendil Novices’ Chase aboard Solo, setting a pedestrian gallop before quickening sharply on the approach to the final fence in the back straight on his way to a closing sectional of 67.4secs and a 13th win in the race for his handler.

Given his relative track position at the start of the sectional, Datsalrightgino (118+) emerges with credit and looks much better suited to racing over two-and-a-half-miles.

Better Power

Our Power (153) went two places better in the feature handicap chase having finished third in last year’s renewal to Cap Du Nord, a victory which ended a quiet spell for trainer Sam Thomas.

Sam Twiston-Davies was hard at work leaving the back straight as a strong early pace set courtesy of Annsam and friends saw him nearly flat to the boards at one point.

Eventually, the gallop slackened, and the closing stages became a test of stamina rather than speed as the winner’s final sectional of 71.3secs reflects.

The Ultima Handicap Chase at the festival in a fortnight’s time could be next on the agenda for the winner.

Lieutenant Rocco (120+) repeated the Solo tactics, albeit not quite so quickly as he stopped the clock for his closing effort at 70.8secs.

Eyecatchers of the Week

One Fine Man (134+), Ayr, Monday, February 27th – has improved for fences and racing at the minimum trip; his closing sectional was very quick.

Aztec Empire (98+), Kempton, Wednesday, February 22nd – justified strong support, returned to Kempton and looks a quality stayer in the making.

Altobelli (137+), Monday, February 20th , Carlisle – sauntered to victory in a fast time, looking every inch a graded horse.